A while back I had a look at the WCW Saturday Night show from 1991, with the return of Dusty Rhodes and the imminent departure of Ric Flair during a particularly dry reign. It was hard to continue due to availability of shows, but the Network has luckily uploaded some episodes from three years later, at the beginning of 1994, so I’m going to have a look at them. They’re missing three episodes in January, which I might or might not locate elsewhere, but for now here’s a slight return to WCW Saturday Night.
Gotta love the Terminator intro for the show, although in typical Because WCW the cyborg wrestler they’re creating overloads and explodes!
Ric Flair is once again the WCW heavyweight champion with Steve Austin the new US champion, Lord Steven Regal the TV champion, and the Nasty Boys the tag team champions.
Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Jesse “The Body” Ventura (in his best suit as part of his senatorial run) and Gene Okerlund.
Replay of the promotional video put together for Flair in what was, 28 years ago, being promoted as his final shot at glory. Really classy stuff, then a dissolve via a roaring Vader to the announcement of his victory.
Terry Taylor vs. Lord Steven Regal
One of the things I hated with WCW, they mute Gary Cappetta’s ring announcements, a’la Saturday Night’s Main Event. Regal looks so young here, 25 years old. If they’d kept him as a dry, colourless babyface he would’ve been back in England by the end of 1993, but the makeover and how well he took to it made his career. As the guys wrestle on the mat, Jesse dumps on how much of a midget Sir William (Dundee) is. Regal’s young and healthy enough to be doing kip ups and flips at this point, but ends up in a body scissors. He gets out, but tries and elbow to the gut and falls back into it. To a hammerlock, with everything being solid, seamless wrestling with an enthusiastic crowd, but not much to report on, not that it needs to be. Uppercut seems to turn it around for Regal twelve minutes in, as announced by Tony. Taylor reverses a butterfly suplex into his own for two. Regal European uppercut is reversed into a Taylor backslide, which I think is how he lost it to Johnny B Badd, before a back and forth series of sunset flip attempts and counters is won by Regal when he holds the tights for the victory.
Colonel Rob Parker introduces Steve Austin as the new US champion and promotes his match later in the show against Sting, which strangely wasn’t announced in the opening.
Pretty Wonderful vs. Scott Studd and Brady Boone
Pretty Wonderful are Pretty Paul Roma and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, a team forged out of an attempted heel turn by Roma on Arn with the Assassin as his new mentor, but they had to abandon that element of it and complete the turn with Erik Watts as the proxy instead when Arn got stabbed in the fight with Sid in England. Scott Studd is a young Scotty Riggs/Scott Anton and Brady Boone is the WWF enhancement guy, in stars and stripes karate pants and kick pads, strangely. Boone looks scarily normal off the gas, like your dad’s mate who does karate on a Wednesday night. He gets a huracanrana on Orndorff early as well as a roll up for two, so Mr. Wonderful wipes him out with a clothesline. He allows Studd to come in and tags in Roma, who immediately misses an elbow. Good variation on the punches in the corner, as Roma starts walking Studd out for an inverted atomic drop and Studd keeps punching until he’s dropped, but also gets clotheslined too and a big powerslam. Orndorff tags back in and nails the piledriver and then tags Roma back in for the easy pinfall.
WCW Control Center recaps Starrcade ’93, with them actually getting it right on this one (not 1992) that it’s the tenth anniversary. Clips from the US title change, with the lights going out (Because WCW…), then back on for a flat finish. In a wash, Teddy Long was voted manager of the year despite having no obvious charges that year (shoulda been Harley Race, as confirmed by how much he gets involved in the world title match). Vader missed the Vadersault and got just about rolled up by Flair for his latest title win after Harley Race’s interference went awry too (love the ref bumping him out to the runway). Vader beat up his lockers like Prowl flipping tables in the Transformers comics as a result.
Johnny B Badd vs. Tony Zane
Johnny has nothing going on, so Tony promotes the next Clash of the Champions from Baton Rouge, while Jesse plans a visit to the French quarter. Zane suplexes out of a side headlock and gets his own pinfall attempt and shots in. Johnny reverses another with headscissors and quickly gets the win with the sunset flip off the top.
Gene talks to Johnny after the match and Johnny plants a kiss (of the sticker kind) on his head. Johnny discusses how he and Michael P.S. Hayes are forming a new tag team before getting interrupted by Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce (later the Godwinns), with some back and forth on how Shanghai has to wear a mask because he’s so ugly, which actually ends up going somewhere.
Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne vs. Robbie Eagle and Mark Kyle
Weird face turn for Maxx, who had been a heel but started teaming with Jack and became a babyface as a result. More almost stars on the enhancement talent side, as Eagle went on to be Gorgeous George and the Maestro and Mark Kyle was Big Bubba Rogers wannabe and Gangstas gang member Killer Kyle in SMW. Cacti takes some work on the arm from Eagle until he gets bored and bites and punches away. Maxx tags in with an elbowdrop for two. Jack back in, with Kyle tagging in too and walking into a clothesline while Jack clothesline Eagle out too and follows up by doing his somersault flip onto him. Back in, Maxx (who’s just massive at this point) tags in and gets the Payne Killer (armbar) for the win. A shame that Maxx didn’t follow Jack to ECW instead of having his WWF run because he was cool and alternative enough to fit in there.
Gene talks to Jack and Maxx after the match where they target the Nasty Boys and declare their desire for the tag team belts.
The Colossal Kongs vs. Scott D’amour and Ben Jordan
No idea why these guys were still around or why Harley Race was wasting his time managing them after Sting pretty much destroyed them single-handed on a Clash in the summer, slamming them both and pinning them about a month into their run. Scott is TNA fuzzball Scott D’amore. Powerslam, elbowdrop, trapped avalanche and double splash finish him off quickly.
The Shockmaster vs. J.L. Sullivan
Very obvious that this has been spliced in from a lower quality source, with more muffled sound and a tracking line at the bottom of the picture. Ah well, it’s only a Shockmaster match. Jesse tries to create a connection between the jobber and boxer John L. Sullivan. I’d argue more for him being the bastard love child of Jerry Lynn and Kevin Sullivan. Shockmaster does have one pretty slick move, a suplex throw where he takes him over from a front facelock. The opposite of that is his WCW finisher, a bearhug into a spinebuster, although he would never get the guy turned enough and stuff like this guy’s feet smashing into the mat happen more than him taking a flat back bump.
Flyin’ Brian vs. Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker
Continuing with the poorer quality tape. Jim Cornette did an excellent dissection of how the Power Plant was a farce on his podcast recently, with the Turner-bought WCW taking on the Assassin’s Deep South promotion in the eighties as a farm league of sorts for jobbers, then Assassin blotting his copybook by always falling asleep in his office and giving it away by loudly snoring, leading to him being moved to the middle of the office so people could keep an eye on him and make sure he wasn’t sleeping on the job. Then when Assassin was too out of shape to train people, he contracted jobber Parker (Dewayne Bruce) to be his trainer, even though all his career amounted to was being a gimmick enhancement guy, and Parker being too much of a mark to do productive training, instead just getting the trainees to squat like they never had before and not showing them how to wrestle. Terry Taylor would go in and attempt to smarten them up and train them properly and get told off for it. Hence WCW producing washouts like Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak and Chuck Palumbo and running off legitimate stars like Bob Sapp and Batista. Anyway, a rare bit of psychology with Parker working over Pillman’s bad ankle while ranting incoherently to the camera while Jesse gets himself into trouble by implying everyone from the South is related. “I’ve been fined before, I’ll be fined again!” Pill makes his comeback while clinging to his Hollywood Blondes gear like Tito Santana wrestling in Strike Force attire four years after the fact. Missile dropkick connects for the win.
Gene speaks to Pillman after the match, who has the chicken suit with him that he hopes for Parker to be wearing by the end of their match at the Clash. Brian was an excellent, intense promo, but he’d really crossed the Rubicon to where he couldn’t really be a good guy any more in much the same way that Scott Steiner did in 1998.
Marcus Alexander Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio vs. J.D. Wolfe and Pat Rose
Marcus and 2 Cold have manager of the year Teddy Long with them, who’s probably looking to make this into a tag team match, playa! With how bad Marcus was as a dancer, how did he ever make a good male stripper? Scorpio starts off with Rose. Scorpio is a case of a guy who you have to ask just how fucked up on drugs he was to get let go by WCW for it given his abundant talent at the time. To his credit, he’s admitted that you can’t go into a talk on the dangers of drugs smoking a joint and sparking one up the minute you leave. He and Marcus use a couple of Irish whip into flying move combos. Marcus runs into Rose’s boot and gets stomped. Marcus monkey flips Wolfe so far in response that he lands on his butt. Wolfe gets a momentary advantage over Scorpio, but Scorpio turns it around on Rose and hits the 450 splash for the win. Case in point, you’ve got a cool babyface hitting revolutionary stuff like that and he’s on the chopping block, for shame.
Gene talks to Teddy and the lads after the match. Marcus is uncool enough to cancel out the combined coolness of Marcus and Scorp. They challenge Paula and Paulina for next week and get Gene dancing.
Stunning Steve Austin vs. Sting
Guessing this was recorded before Starrcade as Austin is referred to as US champ on commentary and on his chyron but has no belt with him. Pretty even start, while Jesse gets going on a political riff about how he now supports and in fact encourages smokers – someone’s gotta pay for healthcare. Austin scoops the leg but gets kicked off to the outside. Back in, it’s more feeling out – Austin leapfrogs back during the days when his legs weren’t so heavy that he couldn’t, but ends up taken down to the mat. Pretty unfathomable that these guys would’ve been doing all this ardently wrestling-based stuff even four years later with how much their characters, and the business as a result, changed. Steve gets a kick in and tries a suplex, which is reversed. Back down to the mat with a side headlock and some reversal attempts. Steve positions Sting on the top rope and punches away. Superplex surprisingly early in the match from Steve on Sting, only resulting in a two. He works on the arm while Tony and Jesse recall Missy Hyatt slapping her then-boyfriend in real life Hawk at Starrcade in the tag title match also involving Sting and the Nasties (“Lot of feeling behind THAT one!”). Steve goes for a slam, but Sting falls on top for two and gets a bit of a comeback, including punches and a back body drop. Then it falls apart as Sting gets momentarily distracted with Col. Parker, Pillman comes out to chase him and they end up in the ring with Brian smacking Austin once they’re in the vicinity of one another. Nick Patrick even regretfully shakes his head as he calls for the DQ against Sting. One of those where they were protecting both guys with the non-finish, but it was a disappointing finish for all after a decent win. Jesse rightfully stirs up shit between Sting and Brian on commentary afterwards.
Gene closes the show by talking to Austin and the Colonel. In a bit of typical Because WCW, the feud between the comedy manager and the miscast babyface is the focus. However, Austin saves it with a bit of revisionist history about how he attained victory while coughing his guts up (“I feel great!”). The challenge is out for a Pillman and Sting against Austin and Rick Rude tag match next week.
The meltdown: Pretty solid post-PPV show that was recorded before the PPV, so no big angles or developments, but that was the way back then. We’ll see if the January 15th show has a bit more fire for being in a new year and new taping cycle next week.